AMERICAN FRAMES, Charles Prendergast, 1863 - 1948


Charles Prendergast first found work at the Art Store of Doll & Richards in the 1870’s. He traveled to England in the 1880’s as a household salesman, and then became a partner selling mantels, and made-to-order woodwork for architects. He eventually became miserable and found himself slipping into a depression. With the help from his brother Maurice, Charles began his first steps as a frame-maker. He found inspiration in a collection of Chinese and Persian art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and incorporated ornaments from these elements in his work. He also found inspiration when he traveled through Italy in 1898 and 1911. He often found himself with more work than he could handle, and so his brother Maurice would help him with frame-making.

This craft help the major moves that came in both their lives. First, from Winchester to Boston in 1912, which was made possible by a commission from the financier T.W. Lawson, and then from Boston to New York in 1914, which occurred due to the commission of 18 frames for the past presidents of a Philadelphia Insurance company. Because of the multiple travels the Prendergast brothers took to New York before their move, they had already established a prominent position in the art scene in the first quarter of the 20th century. Charles had provided a number of frames for the Armory Show of 1913, and he also made panels and chests with his master gesso-incised technique. Many collections have included a number of his frames, and his mastery can also be found in Williamstown’s Williams College of Art, Massachusetts.

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